Scrapping radiology appointments in favour of a walk-in system increases patient and staff satisfaction

May 2, 2018, University of Twente

The use of business administration models can improve radiology processes in hospitals. This is the finding of a study carried out by Jasper van Sambeek, who will be defending his Ph.D. thesis at the University of Twente on 4 May. Van Sambeek showed, for example, that scrapping appointments in favour of walk-in systems enabled departments to deal with patients requiring CT scans more quickly. At the same time, capacity utilization rates remained the same or even increased.

According to Van Sambeek, there is no organization more complex than a . In many ways, they are completely unlike 'normal companies'. Nevertheless, business administration models – if used properly – have great potential in terms of improving patient logistics. His Ph.D. research focused on methods for optimizing the processes involved while, at the same time, improving the service to patients. He focused on radiology departments because increasing numbers of patients are now using these facilities, and because the waiting times involved are often less than ideal. Also, the equipment is very expensive, so it is important for it to be used as efficiently as possible. Van Sambeek carried out a literature survey as well as various case studies, in addition to using computer simulations. His research focused on the situation from the viewpoint of each of those involved – the hospital managers, the healthcare professionals and the patients.

Reducing variation

The general conclusion to be drawn from Van Sambeek's research is that many healthcare processes can be improved by reducing variation. One example of this is a case that Van Sambeek worked on at the Academic Medical Center (AMC) in Amsterdam.

He simulated a new planning strategy to reduce access times (the time patients have to wait before being seen) for the MRI facilities. Those departments have defined a large number of different patient groups (in the belief that this approach is more efficient), each of which is dealt with differently in the scheduling. The simulation showed that if this number was substantially cut, access times could be reduced by up to 93%. Following the implementation of this strategy at the AMC, access times were indeed reduced – from several weeks to a few days.

No appointments

Another way of shortening access times is to enable patients to visit the radiology department without first having to make an appointment. In practice, hospitals usually opt for an appointment system, on the assumption that this is a better way of spreading out the influx of patients. The disadvantage, however, is that it involves more trips to hospital for patients, and it takes longer to reach a diagnosis. In practice, patients usually have to wait one or more weeks before they can be scanned. Van Sambeek points out that "This period can often be reduced to zero."

One of the findings of a case study at Rijnstate Hospital was that if patients can have CT scans without first making an appointment, they might have to wait a few minutes longer in the waiting room, but tend to be more satisfied. The reason is that they do not have to make so many trips to hospital and the scan is carried out much earlier. As a result, the patients get their results much sooner. The study has shown that the system does not involve any compromises in terms of efficiency. Indeed, the facilities' capacity utilization rates appear to be even higher than before. The staff, too, are more satisfied with this system. While things might be very hectic at peak times, they nevertheless feel that it enables them to provide with a better service.

Explore further: New referral pathway cuts palliative radiotherapy wait

Related Stories

New referral pathway cuts palliative radiotherapy wait

September 7, 2017
(HealthDay)—Use of an advanced practice radiation therapist (APRT) may help reduce radiotherapy waiting times for palliative patients, according to a study published Aug. 29 in the Journal of Medical Radiation Sciences.

'Open gym' format shortens waiting time for cardiac rehab

August 30, 2017
Changing from scheduled appointments to an "open gym" format can reduce waiting times for cardiac rehabilitation, reports a study in the September/October issue of Journal of Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation and Prevention. ...

Outpatient wait times are longer for Medicaid recipients

May 11, 2017
(HealthDay)—Medicaid patients have slightly longer waits at medical appointments than those with private insurance, according to a report published in the May issue of Health Affairs.

Should we scrap the target of a maximum 4-hour wait in emergency departments?

October 25, 2017
As waiting times increase, should we scrap the target of a maximum four hour wait in emergency departments? Experts debate the issue in The BMJ today.

Half of all doctor's appointments start late, but how can the problem be fixed?

January 24, 2018
As comedian Jerry Seinfeld says about doctor's office waiting rooms: "There's no chance of not waiting because they call it the waiting room. They're going to use it."

Will urgent care facility benefit more from additional GP or nurse?

April 5, 2013
More and more hospitals and general practitioners in the Netherlands are collaborating in urgent care facilities: a single point of contact (instead of two) for acute patient care outside office hours. Depending on the patient's ...

Recommended for you

Early physical therapy benefits low-back pain patients

May 22, 2018
Patients with low-back pain are better off seeing a physical therapist first, according to a study of 150,000 insurance claims.

Closing coal, oil power plants leads to healthier babies

May 22, 2018
Shuttering coal- and oil-fired power plants lowers the rate of preterm births in neighboring communities and improves fertility, according to two new University of California, Berkeley, studies.

Insufficient sleep, even without extended wakefulness, leads to performance impairments

May 21, 2018
Millions of individuals obtain insufficient sleep on a daily basis, which can lead to impaired performance and other adverse physiological outcomes. To what extent these impairments are caused by the short sleep duration ...

Avoiding the car for travel could significantly lower risk of illness and death

May 21, 2018
People who are more active when commuting to work by walking or cycling could be cutting their relative risk of developing ischaemic heart disease or stroke by 11% and their relative risk of dying from these diseases by 30%, ...

New study shows higher formaldehyde risk in e-cigarettes than previously thought

May 21, 2018
Portland State University researchers who published an article three years ago in the New England Journal of Medicine about the presence of previously undiscovered forms of formaldehyde in e-cigarette vapor revisited their ...

Sleep better, parent better: Study shows link between maternal sleep and permissive parenting

May 21, 2018
Research has shown that consistently not getting enough sleep, or getting poor quality sleep, can put you at risk for a number of health conditions. But how does sleep, or the lack of it, affect how you parent?


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.